Nike Suspends Contract With Adrian Peterson: Will This Trigger A Sponsorship Landslide?
Because Nike has to be at the forefront of everything -- really, it's Nike's world, and we just live in it -- the sports apparel supergiant has taken this Adrian Peterson thing by the horns and wrestled it into submission. Nike has suspended its contract with Peterson in the wake of child abuse allegations involving one or more of his kids.
Radisson Hotels was actually the first company to suspend its contract with the Vikings, following Peterson being placed on the inactive list for this Sunday's game. The running back was then reinstated, and then pulled again on Tuesday -- placed on the Commissioner's Permission List, whatever that is. Deam Wormer can probably explain.
And hey, don't forget Castrol. The motor oil company, who had used Peterson as a spokesman for its Edge Performance products, has cut all ties wit the running back and has removed him from their advertisements, according to CNN Money. So technically, Castrol is the first and only company to cancel an existing Peterson endorsement contract, using the morals clause.
Fun fact: Castrol is a subsidiary of BP Oil. Given all of that company's PR woes (they're still getting sued for that Gulf oil spill), one can see why they're not too tolerant of any hint of child abuse.
On Tuesday Nike had moved to remove Peterson items from shelves in the Twin Cities.
"Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL," company spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in a statement. "We have suspended our contract with Adrian Peterson."
Now as you know, a suspended contract and a canceled contract are two different things. To say the situation is fluid is understating things.
But the big question is, will this be the move that causes a flood of other sponsorship suspensions? Here's where things stand so far with sponsors on the Peterson front, and with other NFL domestic violence issues in general:
* Radisson Hotels: The hotel chain, whose parent company is based in Minneapolis, on Monday suspended its sponsorship with the Vikings. In a statement the hotel said: “Radisson takes this matter very seriously particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children. We are closely following the situation and effective immediately, Radisson is suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances.” Important to note that “suspending” is not the same as “canceling”.
* Nike. Also at the local level, the sports apparel giant has swept Peterson memorabilia from shelves in Minneapolis and St. Paul. However, moving some shirts into another room is hardly a legally binding statement.
* Wheaties. The company has dropped Peterson’s image and name from its website. This however seems to be little more than a housekeeping issue: Peterson hasn’t been under contract with Wheaties since 2013.
* Anheuser-Busch: Beer giant getting nervous, but only talk so far. Statement: “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.” Their licensing agreement with the NFL alone is worth $50 million, so don’t look for the needle to rise much beyond empty bluster.
* Procter and Gamble: After a fake Covergirl Magazine ad went viral (see below), the company that owns the magazine responded on its Facebook page: “Domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.” See? Problem solved!
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 16, 2014
* McDonald’s: Statement: “We have questions surrounding these evolving situations and are closely monitoring as the appropriate parties investigate these matters. We have communicated our concerns to the league, and we expect it to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues.” This statement is high in calories, low in nutrition.
* Visa: Statement: “As a long-standing sponsor we have spoken with the NFL about our concerns regarding recent events, and reinforced the critical importance that they address these issues with great seriousness.” In other words: ‘Hey folks, we acknowledge that a problem exists. Now get back to mailing in that minimum payment.’
* Pepsico. Vice president of communications Jay Cooney, asked Monday if the company is wavering on its support of the league, referred to Pepsi's statement last week that said, "Domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We are encouraged to see the NFL is now treating this with the seriousness it deserves."
* Campbell Soup Company. "Domestic violence is abhorrent. We are watching developments closely and look forward to the findings of the independent investigation underway.”
* EA Sports. Has removed Ray Rice's image from its NFL Madden 15 video game, and cut all ties with the Ravens' running back.
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